On the latest edition of Billieve: A Buffalo Bills Fan Podcast, host John Boccacino is joined by co-host Anthony Marino to break down the contract of G/C Spencer Long, and to look into their crystal ball to identify players poised for a breakthrough in 2019, and those whose play could regress next year.
Any Buffalo Bills fan can tell you the offensive line needs a lot of improvement over the offseason, but when the Bills inked Long to a three-year deal, many fans were frustrated that the team would invest in someone like Long. After all, this is someone who struggled mightily last year in starting 13 games for the New York Jets and received an abysmal grade of 45.4 from Pro Football Focus, which ranked 37th among all centers who were graded last season.
But with time, the details of the contract emerged, and it is certainly a team-friendly contract. Thanks to number crunching done by ESPN beat reporter Mike Rodak, fans can rest easy knowing Long’s contract is heavy on incentives and light on guaranteed money. While it is a three-year deal, the Bills are only on the hook for one year, with two consecutive team options that allow the Bills to extend his deal up to two additional years.
Long is a versatile lineman who can play guard or center, and that type of positional versatility certainly appealed to general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott. More importantly, whether Long was signed to compete for a starting role or merely for valuable depth, he carries only $1.2 million in guaranteed money, making this a low-risk signing by Buffalo.
Switching to playing prognosticator, our podcasters address which members of the Bills they expect to take a step forward in 2019, and who could experience a regression. Boccacino likes WR Robert Foster and RB Marcus Murphy to contribute more next year, while Marino identified WR Zay Jones and DE Shaq Lawson as players who will improve their roles.
On the flip side, Boccacino hates to say it, but he thinks fan-favorite and defensive leader LB Lorenzo Alexander, 36, could take a step back in 2019. Marino counters with undrafted rookie free-agent CB Levi Wallace, who exceeded expectations and graded out as PFF’s fourth-overall CB in 2018, as his choice to experience some regression this year.
Who do you think are prime candidates to take a major leap forward in 2019? Who could see their play suffer next year? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section, and check out our podcast for thoughts on these topics and more on the latest Billieve: A Buffalo Bills Fan Podcast.
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